AFGE Members Blew Whistle at Tomah VA to Protect Patients from Wrongfully Prescribed Drugs

Categories: VA, Workers' Rights, Veterans

The Tomah VA hospital in Wisconsin has been in the news lately for allegedly prescribing high doses of drugs to veterans. But did you know that it was AFGE members who blew the whistle on these practices that may have led to 33 dead veterans? 

AFGE whistleblowers had for years raised their concerns with management about high doses of drugs given to veterans. Instead of properly investigating the issue, management appears to have retaliated against the employees, who subsequently filed whistleblower complaints that prompted investigations by the VA’s Office of the Inspector General. 

This week we’re happy to learn that Mario DeSanctis is out as director of the hospital and has been reassigned to a position outside of the hospital. Dr. Houlihan had been moved to non-clinical duties and was later placed on administrative leave. 

At a congressional hearing this week, AFGE member Noelle Johnson testified about how pharmacists were discouraged from testing patients for drug use. Johnson was fired in 2009 after refusing to fill prescriptions for high doses of morphine that she believed were not safe. She now works as a pain management specialist at a VA facility in Des Moines, Iowa. 

Another investigation is ongoing to decide whether these managers will be terminated.

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